Before any United fans flip their lid at this article, it’s crucial to remember the use of the word “surprise” in the title.
It’s pretty common knowledge that United’s biggest weakness right now is the centre of their midfield, and as such one would be shocked if that issue weren’t at least in part resolved this summer as a priority.
Red Devils fans have been growing increasingly agitated by the constant stream of defenders that have been brought to Old Trafford, while the midfield continues to seemingly go untouched.
Therefore, it would seem a defender like Luiz is not a player that United should at any point be making their top target for this transfer window.
However, as much as fans of the Devils would hate to admit right now, for all the talk of a crowded bench of defenders, there is a glaring issue that most seem to be ignoring.
Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra are two players who have been crucial to United’s success over the past decade or so and have been (along with Nemanja Vidic) the spine of one of the Premier League’s most dominant defences.
Now aged 34 and 32 respectively, both men are slowly beginning to draw towards a point in their career when they will no longer be able to compete at the top level.
Let’s first address the Rio situation.
It has almost become sacrilege at United to criticise the central defensive pairing of Ferdinand and Vidic, but with the England international now surely just a season (or at best two) away from no longer being up to scratch, are United really ready for the sudden exit of one of their most important players?
I’m not suggesting that United don’t have quality players to fill this void. After all, in yesterday’s Community Shield, Phil Jones adopted the position that made him shine at Blackburn Rovers—and did a fine job of it.
But are any of these emerging stars really on a par with Ferdinand? Or rather, will they ever be?
We can’t say for sure yet whether it’s a yes or no, but it’s highly unlikely that any will reach the heights Rio once did.
I’m not saying that David Luiz is the answer to this issue. In fact, I might personally favour Jones over the Brazilian.
However, Luiz has made a name for himself playing as a centre-back with an attacking flair at Chelsea. This a role which he also adopts with the Brazil national team, having broken into their first XI and maintained his place in the side after an impressive Confederations Cup.
Maybe Jones is the better option in the long term for the role, but with the dangerous possibility of a lack of a decent left-back at United after Evra leaves (Alexander Buttner has shown little to no indication since his first game with United that he is up to scratch), perhaps using the naturally right-footed Luiz on the left side of the pitch could work as an inspired piece of tactical deployment.
It’s far from unheard of for players who are skilful with both feet (as Luiz is) to adopt a position on their “weaker” foot and cut inside.
Perhaps this is something more naturally accustomed to a winger, but with the obvious passion that Luiz has for going forward, it seems somewhat surprising that the 26-year-old hasn’t been used as a full-back more often for the Blues.
So, with both of the positions looming large as potential areas of concern in the coming seasons, the versatility of Luiz makes him a player that United should potentially be keeping their eye on.
Proven on a world-class level at both centre-back and as a full-back, David Luiz is not someone that should overlooked as a possible cog in the Moyes-United pipe-works.
And for those fans still not convinced that signing another defender could have its merits, they should consider the offensive prowess that Luiz has exhibited time and time again.
It’s not rare to see a defensive-minded midfielder converted into a central defender, so why should we rule out the possibility of the reverse of this?
Luiz has certainly shown his capabilities going forward, and who’s to say that he couldn’t play as either a winger or a holding midfielder?
At this point however, we really are stretching the limits of this fairy-tale transfer to suite those fixated on the issues in midfield.
It’s unlikely that if he did come to Old Trafford (which in itself is about a one-in-100 chance right now with Barca ready to pounce) Luiz would be told to so drastically change his playing position.
Nevertheless, whatever United fans may want to believe, their defence (as was evident throughout preseason) is not what it once was, and an injection of a world-class and versatile talent like Luiz would do it a power of good.
Ultimately though, whatever point this writer aims to achieve with this piece, one has to conclude that United need to turn their attention towards strengthening that rickety midfield.
Pipe dreams like David Luiz will have to wait until the Red Devils' midfield is as strong as their closest competitors.
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